HC Deb 06 March 1969 vol 779 cc644-6
2. Mr. Peter M. Jackson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will now give an estimate of the cost to public funds of the arrangements to bring Ambassadors and Commonwealth representatives to the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. George Thomas)

The cost to public funds of taking Ambassadors and Commonwealth representatives to the Investiture ceremony is likely to be about £4,000.

Mr. Jackson

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that that is a very large sum of money? Is it within the allocation of £200,000 which I understand my right hon. Friend has set as the limit of the expenditure for the ceremony? Would he also say whether the coaches and trains which are bringing other so-called Welsh dignitaries to attend the ceremony are also to be paid for out of public funds?

Mr. Thomas

The £4,000 is within the ceiling of the £200,000. I have the impression that if I said that the sum was £20 some people would say that it was too high a figure. This amount is quite realistic. As for the expenses of other people, I do not know of any special trains laid on for them.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

Does the £200,000 include the cost of the wages of the hundreds of police who will be involved and the 2,500 soldiers and the crews of the naval vessels who will be there to add to the military nature of the occasion?

Mr. Thomas

I understand the concern of the hon. Member, who is neutral about the Investiture—neither for it nor against it. The wages to which he refers will fall to be met by the responsible Departments.

3. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many of the £5 5s. and £10 10s. seats at the Investiture at Caernarvon have been sold up to date; what steps he is taking to prevent speculation in the tickets; and how many have been allocated to old-age pensioners who were present at the last Investiture.

Mr. George Thomas

The seats to which my hon. Friend refers are those outside the Castle, which are on sale through the Wales Tourist Board. All the £5 5s. seats and 2,000 of the £10 10s. seats have been sold. It is a matter for those buying the seats to act responsibly to prevent any speculation. I have no information on how many of these seats have been sold to old-age pensioners.

Mr. Hughes

But is my right hon. Friend aware that the old-age pensioners have a grievance since many of the 10-guinea seats have already been taken up by the unemployed? Would it not be a gracious act on his part to send a special invitation and a complimentary 10-guinea ticket to that very distinguished and popular old-age pensioner, the Duke of Windsor, who played such a prominent part in the last Investiture?

Mr. Thomas

I am sure that the House and the people of Wales will be interested to know that my hon. Friend is now anxious to see that there is a good attendance at the Investiture.

Sir G. Nabarro

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that I asked him several months ago what special arrangements he would make for English Members of Parliament, myself included, who may wish to attend the Investiture, and in my case will wish to attend the Investiture with my wife? Will facilities be specially available for Members of the House of Commons?

Mr. Thomas

It is understandable that, in view of the fact that the central figure of the Investiture is the Prince of Wales, whose superb broadcast the House, I know, will have apreciated, hon. Members should want to attend—[Interruption.] It was a superb broadcast; let hon. Members make as much noise as they like. Arrangements have been made through the usual channels for representatives from both sides of the House to attend. I advise the hon. Member, if he is still on speaking terms, to talk to his Chief Whip.

4. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many letters and representations he has received calling for increased expenditure on the Investiture of the Prince of Wales.

Mr. George Thomas

I have received no such letters or representations.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

In view of the statement that there is massive support for the Investiture in Wales, how does the Secretary of State explain that there is no offer of financial assistance? Is he aware that those in the licensed trade are opening the pubs for several hours? Does he think that they should come forward with a magnificent contribution?

Mr. Thomas

Far be it from me to advocate the cause of the licensed trade, but, of course, its members are taking this action because they expect a very popular response. The reason why I have not had these letters, I am sure, is that the people of Wales have every confidence that we shall manage efficiently with a dignified and colourful ceremony within the figure arranged.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Will the right hon. Gentleman inform his hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) that if he bangs on much longer on this subject he will be in grave danger of being shut up in a dustbin?